A Line in the Sand

by Marinka on February 12, 2010

In my great tradition of stealing post ideas from other bloggers, which also doubles as my way of honoring them, because, you know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (where sincerest is code for most litigious), this week I am aiming high and ripping off one of the Top Fifty Mommy Bloggers, Jennifer from Playgroups are No Place for Children. Every once in a while, Jennifer does the “Cinnamon Life Cereal and It’s Raining, It’s Pouring. It’s totally fun to read and weigh in.

So, this is what I’m thinking. It would be too unfair for me to ask you if I’m right or if Husbandrinka is right about some issue, because, duh. So I thought that I’d handicap it a little. Like, I’m not a native English speaker, so he at least has a chance at a language based dispute.

And one presented itself the other day, when my daughter kept whining that she wanted her friend to sleep over, which really flew in the face of my plans to minimize the number of kids who are at our house at the same time. I have this equation where my own kids=great, but plus one other kid=purgatory. You’d think that it would make more than one kid to tip the balance, but you’d be wrong.
So I said “no” to the sleepover. Because if that’s all it takes to get out of purgatory, I see no reason not to.

And she made her trademarked pouty face. You know that face, where somehow she gets an eye transplant from a Basset Hound puppy and her lower lip turns itself inside out and is very impossible to say ‘no’ to. And Husbandrinka looks heartbroken and I say to him, “What? You think she should have a sleepover?”
And he says, “Well you already drew a line in the sand and said.no to her, so we can’t change it now.”
And I’m all, “A line in the sand? That is no line in the sand! What I did was etched a line in concrete.” Because “a line in the sand’ sounds very impermanent. But maybe that’s just me, having grown up with poor quality Soviet sand.

And he asks me what I think that a line in the sand means. So I told him, without googling, that a line in the sand is a line that you’re willing to erase. Like something that you don’t feel strongly about. “Like what?” He asks.
“Like I can’t think of an example right now,” I tell him. But then a miracle happens and suddenly I can.
“Ok,” I explain, “Like I’m drawing a line in the sand that between pea soup and tomato soup, I would rather have tomato.”
And he is a lot less impressed than you would think with my example and says, “that makes no sense.”
And I ask him what he thinks that expression means and he says, “When you forbid someone to cross something.”
“Why is it in a sand?”
“It may have something to do with kids playing in sandboxes.”

Yes. Kids playing in sandboxes. And forbidding other kids from drawing lines in those sandboxes.

So, who do you agree with–Husbandrinka’s sandboxes or my soup?

One year ago ...

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon February 12, 2010 at 3:40 am

I don’t care about the sandbox… he backed you up in front of the kid! Way to go Husbandrinka!


Noelle February 12, 2010 at 3:54 am

In my next life I’m totally coming back as a fly on your wall. Don’t swat me.


Maravonda February 12, 2010 at 6:21 am

I’m sorry, Marinka, but Husbandrinka is spot on with this one. Have to google origin of phrase now. May report back later…


Maravonda February 12, 2010 at 6:27 am

Many interesting possibilities for the origin of the phrase, none of them certain, but “in modern usage. to draw a line in the sand means that the matter is closed. No soup for you.


February 12, 2010 at 8:02 am

Your husband is right that the idiomatic expression is assumed to mean that you have drawn an absolutely uncrossable line, the crossing of which is certain to bring ultimate doom. You, however, are 100% right that this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever because a line in the sand = a line very easy to smudge away with one little toe. I do have some vague recollection of some Russian expression about eyes or something like that, which you once wrote about, that made no sense to me. (Obviously, my memory is particualarly fine this morning.) So I think the real problem is that idioms don’t make a lot of sense. My best friend’s mother (native German speaker) couldn’t get them right and therefore my friend was always saying things like, “Do you have a minute? I want to throw something past you.” It was hilarious. How does this help Marinka? It is better to be hilarious (and logical) than right and pedantic. My two cents…


Crys February 12, 2010 at 8:16 am

Well, I’d say Husbandrinka. But since I’d hope to meet you one day, you are RIGHT! Soup it is!

Yes, I’m a brown noser but I have to be. I’m also a Libra so everything has to be balanced.


The Daver
February 12, 2010 at 9:45 am

No one knows where it comes from exactly, but in the US many use it in reference to the Alamo — where Santa Anna had Commander Travis surrounded, and demanded surrender — and Travis drew a line in the sand with his sword and asked his men to pick a side. Side with Travis, you die defending the Alamo; the other side lives as a coward, traitor, and in the hands of Santa Anna.

So it’s like, life or death stuff.


Noelle February 12, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Well I think we all know who’s side of the line we better stand on!


February 12, 2010 at 9:51 am

Here’s the thing: how do you draw a line in concrete?

Imagine this: We are at the Alamo and I say will you fight or will you flee? And then I take a stick and draw a line IN THE SAND and step over it. Then I tell all the brave people to step over the line in the sand and all the cowards to stay on the other side.

If it had been concrete, everyone would be all, “Where the hell is the line? Which side am I on?” because you can’t draw a line on concrete with a stick. So unless you carry some sort of etching tool with you at all times, it’s going to be difficult to draw lines in the concrete.

It seems to be purely a practical matter to me.


The Daver
February 12, 2010 at 10:10 am

Two words: Sidewalk Chalk. 🙂


barbara sigelbaum
February 12, 2010 at 11:14 am

You are right because your husband has never made me laugh so why would I side with him?


Gretchen February 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

As someone who grew up in Texas, I can tell you that it is in fact an Alamo reference. Oh looky, don’t we love the Wiki –


It was the time of the final battle, and things didn’t look good for the Texians. They were drastically outnumbered by the Mexicans, and it was the last chance for anyone to make an escape. Their leader, Travis, called everyone into the courtyard and dramatically drew a line in the sand with his sword. The told everyone that if they chose to stay and bravely die together for their cause, they should cross the line. Everyone crossed the line, choosing certain death, except for one wimpy French dude – something that Texans through the years have taken great pride in.

So really?…Neither of you are using the term correctly. The drawing of the line is more of a dare, or an ultimatum. You have a choice. Cross the line and die with me, or stay behind and be a wimpy French dude.


soccermom February 12, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I thought it ment once you have made a decision you can’t turn back, once you have drawn the line “in the sand” so to speak? But what the heck do I know, I didn’t even go to college. So who freakin knows.


anna see February 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I’m with husbandrinka on this one, but I still like you better.


rachel February 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm

You know, I’ve never really understood this phrase either and that’s why I don’t use it.

And very timely post for me as I’m having an extra for a sleepover tonight. As if I need more children in my house.


Slow Panic
February 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm

now that you put it that way i’m totally on your side. line in the sand indeed.


February 12, 2010 at 2:41 pm

i don’t understand why you didn’t just ship off your daughter and her friend over to John’s. what kind of best-gay is he, anyway?


I'm Nate's Mom February 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

My problem with the sleepover isn’t the extra kid , it’s the wine or no wine dilemma. I mean, yeah, extra kid requires wine, right? But will I be judged by the kid (or the kid’s parents)? And what if there’s an emergency and I have to drive the kid to the ER? You’re right (about the no sleepover, not the line in the soup).


Heather (qtberryhead) February 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I would rather eat glass than host sleepovers.
As far as the sand and the soup…your definition makes a lot more sense.
I’m voting for tomato though.


the mama bird diaries
February 12, 2010 at 10:25 pm

I have no idea but I don’t understand why you won’t let your lovely daughter be happy.


Kate Coveny Hood
February 13, 2010 at 3:17 am

Since I so rarely stay strong on enforcing my “no’s” – I’m going with the soup.


Christine February 13, 2010 at 9:22 am

Was there sand in the Rubicon? I think drawing a line in the sand is like crossing that river, but what do I know? I’m sleep deprived from hosting a recent sleepover and there’s a playdate over here now.


The gold digger February 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm

My problem with the sleepover isn’t the extra kid , it’s the wine or no wine dilemma. I mean, yeah, extra kid requires wine, right?

Can’t you give wine to the kids so they’ll sleep?

Or is that another one of those stupid illegal things?

I don’t have kids so I don’t know.


Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children
February 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Seeing as you linked to me AND mentioned my Top 50 “honor” (more PR pitches for me!), I’ll go with you on this one. Except that Husbandrinka *might* be right. Maybe.


July 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

poor quality Soviet sand!!!
anyway, thanks for enlightening, I would argue till my cheeks turn into tomato soup about meaning of that idiom


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